March 1, 2007

Top Stories * Feb. 22-28

China Blamed for Sandstorm “Season”

Born in the widening Gobi Desert, driven by overgrazing and deforestation, and soaking up the carcinogens and pollutants of China’s industrial districts, the toxic sandstorms of China have grown from a bothersome four days annually in the 1980s to a 17-day “season” that kills hundreds and sickens millions in Japan and the Koreas each year.

Faced with bad press and anger from its neighbors, China has promised a “sandstorm-free” Olympics in 2008, and according to the Scotsman is replanting eroded areas.

California Prison Drug Program Condemned

California’s Inspector General Matt Cate aid the state’s prison drug treatment programs are a “total failure,” the Los Angeles Times reports, costing taxpayers $1 billion since 1989, and even increasing recidivism.

Cate said treatment programs were frequently disrupted by lockdowns and lack of counseling. He also said prison officials spent more than $8 million on progress reports they ignored, and that California’s Legislature twice expanded the programs without verifying their effectiveness.

Vaccine Shortage Spurs Meningitis Fears

Schools, dance halls and churches have been closed as a rare meningitis strain spreads through Uganda’s West Nile region, killing 110 people and affecting 2,923 others. Outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan have spurred fears of an epidemic; vaccine supplies are limited to 300,000 doses, with no additional stocks currently in production worldwide.

Sources:

“12-day toxic sandstorm the price of Chinese growth for South Korea”
The Scotsman (U.K.), February 23, 2007

“California prison drug treatment called waste of money”
Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2007

“Meningitis kills 110”
The New Vision (Uganda), February 23, 2007

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